What is Sumbel?
Sumbel, What is it?
It’s a ritual toasting hosted by Asatruar for centuries. In modern Asatru, we do Sumbel in 3rounds. The priest will bless the horn by galdering the ALU formula. Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz.
The role of horn bearer is filled by a Gythia or a lady of high status in our Folk Community. This is a tradition that dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years. The horn bearer is the keeper of frith, and her feminine magic cleanses the horn each time it’s passed. Being selected to bear the sacred horn is a tremendous honor.
There should also be a man or woman of a high-status present that maintains order in Sumbel. For example, if someone were out of line, he or she would help them stay on track.
The Sumbel Structure
The first round is to the Gods of order. We in the Asatru Folk Assembly do not honor the forces of chaos in any way during Sumbel or Blot. When toasting one of our gods feel free to use kennings to describe them, for example, one of Thor’s kennings is Ve-Ur (temple strong). Speak poetically and noble, and with a joyful heart!
The second round is to the ancestors. This one can be very personal and emotional and is somber in tone very often. Things to remember during this round are, that we are toasting someone who has passed away, not a living relative. And when you do, make sure you say their name over the horn, because hailing “Granny” is ambiguous. Hailing “Ethel Smith” carries more weight and will be heard by the ancestors on the other side of the veil.
The third round is to the heroes. This round is kind of an open round. Toasts to living folk or boasts of a personal accomplishment, reciting poetry, or singing a song is all acceptable.
Most often in the heroes round, folks will toast a living person that you’d like to honor.
If a person were toasting forces of chaos during Sumbel or raised a horn to people alive or dead that are not of our European folk, Sumbel would be stopped. The offending person would be asked to return the horn to the horn bearer and asked to leave. The horn bearer would likely pour out the horn, refill it and begin the round again. Words spoken over the horn must be noble, spoken to Gods of order and folk of our heritage. These aren’t just faux pas, they are seriously egregious.
Something to note, it’s considered rude to “add on” to another person's toast. Maintain decorum and frith while others are holding the horn. Also and lastly, please refrain from using profanity during Sumbel. Toasting your grandmother and swearing at the same time is ridiculous. My grandmother would be highly embarrassed and disappointed if I used foul language in her presence. And she is present during Sumbel.
I hope you find this helpful and use this to guide you when you are participating in Sumbel.
Gothi Daniel Young